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What Are the Basics of Chinese Medicine Treatment?

By Erik J.J. Goserud
Updated Jan 26, 2024
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Chinese medicine treatment, a term which is also known as "Eastern medicine," now encompasses modalities from all parts of Asia. Described as the medical practices that originated in China thousands of years ago, the practice focuses on bodily harmony. This school of medical thought follows the belief that a healthy body is balanced and that any disease or ailment that may be present is due to an imbalance in the body's harmony. This imbalance may be due to a number of factors, and Chinese medicine treatment seeks to utilize a number of rituals, herbs, acupuncture, and massage therapies to restore the natural balance of the human being.

To Westerners, or those not familiar with Eastern medicine, the nonscientific view of Chinese medicine treatment may seem a bit abstract and difficult to comprehend. In order to overcome this knowledge gap, there are a few basic fundamentals that may aid in the overall understanding of Eastern medicine. A few of the basics — qi, xue, jinye, the essences, and the five elements — will be briefly described here.

Qi is somewhat of a center of energy, and in congruence with the yin and the yang, a qi imbalance may throw off other bodily equilibriums. Xue, sometimes referred to as jue, is the blood of the body. It is not as specifically defined in Eastern medicine as it is in Eastern, or allopathic, medicine.

Other fluids of the body not related to the xue are referred to as jinye. Jinye may include tears, fluid, sputum, and saliva. The five elements of the body are used to categorize a number of things, including one's personality, as each element carries different associated characteristics with it. The elements are wood, fire, earth, metal, and water.

Due to the fact that health is equal to balance, disease is perceived as imbalance. Therefore, the diagnostic methodologies of Chinese medicine treatment focus on identifying where an imbalance may exist and providing the necessary treatment to restore this system back to its previous balanced state. Eastern medicine is less concerned with specific anatomical parts and more interested in the functioning of certain systems. To illustrate, an irregularity in the digestive tract in Eastern medicine may be viewed allopathically as a colon or small intestinal issue.

Treatment may be very complex and will vary from practitioner to practitioner, as is the case in Western medicine as well. The commonality of treatment approaches lies in the use of plant and animal elements, massage therapy, and acupuncture. Acupuncture utilizes the insertion and manipulation of sharp needles to treat pain and imbalance. Elements of plants and animals are used to provide a counter force to an imbalance, and massage therapy draws upon the muscular nature of the body to refocus energy and elements.

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